Sunday, August 17, 2008

brand wars

A couple of months ago, or probably more, I cadged a copy of Sathnam Sanghera's If You Don't Know Me By Now off Penguin, claiming that I wanted to review it on my blog. You might think that since I read the book at a single sitting this would qualify it for immediate and enthusiastic review; you might think that laughing out loud would improve its chances; you might think that, since the book also raised important questions about identity, immigration, mental health and the nature of language it would have been impossible not to sit down and dash off a review to bring it to readers' attention. If I remember correctly, though, I was dealing with a difficult journalist (not Mr Sanghera) and unable to do more than halfheartedly post random links and the odd plot from R on pp. The review did not even make it as far as the drafts folder.

I wanted to take advantage of the blog form, though, by first introducing readers to Sanghera's style, which I first came across a couple of years ago in the Financial Times. If You Don't Know Me By Now came as a revelation precisely because I had been following Sanghera's column, with its finely tuned comic persona, for months, without (as so often) knowing anything about how it had come into being.

Sanghera took a sabbatical to write his book and is now back, writing for the Times. And today I find that Sanghera has explored an issue raised some time ago on paperpools - that of mad British copycat branding.

Those who've been following the blog may remember the feud between Britannia Pizza and Pasta and Britannia Pizza and Chicken, treasured flyer posted
here. This is, it turns out, no isolated incident. SS:

They say that Britain has become a second-rate nation. They say our greatest brands are controlled by foreigners, that the last half-decent singer-songwriter we produced was Phil Collins, that we're run by a man who can't pronounce “al-Qaeda” properly.

It was hugely encouraging, therefore, to read last week that (i) the Newcott Chef restaurant on the A30 in Devon was being threatened with legal action from Little Chef over its lookalike appearance; and that (ii) the easyCurry Indian restaurant in Northampton was being threatened with legal action from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou's easyGroup over its trading name.

the rest here

1 comment:

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

I would agree that Phil Collins is a "half-decent singer-songwriter" (but damn, older I get the more I like him!) He is interviewed in the Break-Up episode of This American Life, after which I could only think: Damn, where would we be without Phil Collins...?) hm, but the UK has a great many singer songwriters! Thom Yorke, Morrissey, more recently Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), and there are a dozen others which i can't think of off the top of my head without another cup of coffee...